Disabled dad stranded at station where wheelchair users can arrive but not leave

Disabled dad stranded at station where wheelchair users can arrive but not leave

09/09/2019

A disabled dad says he got stranded at a railway station which allows wheelchair users to arrive but not leave.

Richard Luke arrived at the station with wife Natalie, 35, and daughter Scarlett, 11, and was able to use a ramp to get off the train and a lift to get off the platform.

But when they returned to the station after a weekend away there were not facilities to allow him get back on the train and head home.

Richard, who suffers cerebral palsy, made the train journey because he was speaking at a conference in Herne Bay, Kent.

“I felt awful because I was with my daughter,” the 42-year-old said.

“She’s never seen me treated any differently.

“She doesn’t see me as disabled or someone who uses a wheelchair – I’m just dad.

“On that occasion I was treated differently and she was very upset.

“I think she sees me as a little bit differently now – she doesn’t just see me as dad any more.

“She’s started fussing over me more than she used to.”

The Coventry man had booked accessible tickets months in advance for the trip.

“Not one member of staff said I wouldn’t be able to return from Herne Bay,” Richard added.

“They knew I booked assistance, and I had given great detail about my impairment and mobility issues.

“Not one member of staff thought it would be a good idea to tell me there was no wheelchair access in one of the platforms.”

The trio then had to wait several hours for the town’s only accessible taxi, and spent the last of their money on a cab to nearby Whistable.

The family arrived home in Coventry late at night, hours after they were supposed to.

Richard was speaking about the traumatic trip – which happened earlier this year – as part of disabled charity Scope’s campaign to improve public transport for disabled people.

Four in five disabled people have felt anxious about using public transport, and three in five disabled people have felt scared.

Richard explained how he often gets on long train journeys to find the only disabled toilet is out of service.

He said he plays “ramp roulette” with his family – a joke about whether staff will have a wheelchair ramp at his destination station.

If they don't, the family are forced to travel several stops on, and then get a taxi or train back.

Passengers also often fill up the disabled space with luggage, blocking Richard from securing his wheelchair.

Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is supporting Scope’s campaign.

She said: “The frustrations and uncertainties disabled passengers face can turn what should be a straightforward journey into a nightmare.

“I take more than 100 train journeys each year and experience first-hand the problems and inconsistencies that many disabled people face when travelling by public transport.

“And I hear time and time again from disabled passengers who reach out to me, having been let down by the UK’s trains, buses, metro systems, taxis and trams.


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